Padres Prospect Interview: Griffin Benedict

FORT WAYNE, IN: Griffin Benedict, 22, was San Diego's 16th-round draft pick out of Georgia Southern University in the 2009 draft.

The left-handed hitting Benedict has split time this year behind the plate and in left field in Eugene due to the Padres having three catchers on their roster, including Jason Hagerty, the team's fifth-round pick this year out of the University of Miami and Emmanuel Quiles, a sixth-round selection in 2007.

Benedict finished off his four year career at Georgia Southern by putting up his best numbers, hitting .412/.532/.679 with 65 RBI in 58 games and a 34/31 BB/K ratio en route to leading his team to the Southern Conference Championship.

We caught up with Griffin on his brief stay in Fort Wayne where he was up to replace the injured Adam Zornes.

Can you give us a little bit of background on you and how you got into the San Diego organization?

Griffin Benedict: I was drafted by the Padres in the 16th-round of this year's draft out of Georgia Southern. There was a local scout out of Tennessee who was with the Padres and I was lucky enough to talk a good enough game to get him interested in me. I was in Eugene for about a week and then [catcher] Adam [Zornes] got hurt so here I am.

You got a bit of break getting up to Low-A so quickly.

Griffin Benedict: Absolutely, I know its a long road, but to be up here and experience a team and park like this so quickly is pretty special.

When I was watching you in the cage the other day, it seemed you were pretty comfortable hitting with wood. Has it been that big an adjustment for you?

Griffin Benedict: It's been an adjustment and I don't think I'm there yet. Its really the same as it is in college, try to get a good pitch to hit and put a swing on it.

What do you see as the biggest change from college to the pros other than the players are better?

Griffin Benedict: The level of play is obvious as you said, but mainly its just getting used to playing so much as opposed to college. Here, you don't have any days off. You try to come to the park, do your work and get better in the pre-game, take BP and then you play. Getting ready to play mentally and physically is the biggest challenge.

It seems that someone whose father not only was a professional baseball player but a catcher as well, you would guess that you might try to find a different position, let alone anther sport. However, it seems you have kind of embraced it.

Griffin Benedict: It was funny how that worked out. I think catcher is a good fit for me with my size, speed and arm strength. Physically, its a good spot for me and mentally I like being in charge of the game back there.

I always liked baseball quite a bit. I played some football in high school and had some offers to go to some bigger schools.

What did you play in football?

Griffin Benedict: I was a quarterback. I got tired of everyone getting bigger, stronger and faster than I was, so I thought I had a better chance in baseball to get to a position like this.

Have you always caught?

Griffin Benedict: I've played catcher since high school. I was a middle infielder for awhile, a little at first; but pretty much since my sophomore year I've been a catcher.

You seem like someone who really enjoys playing that position, although you have been playing some outfield in Eugene.

Griffin Benedict: I played a little bit of left field in Eugene and its just a big adjustment not being directly involved in every pitch. I mean you are concentrating on every pitch in the outfield, but you might get one ball a game as opposed to every ball. Playing another position is tough.

Is it tough to play left field offensively because you can sometimes take bad at-bats with you to the field as opposed to catching where you really have to be totally focussed on every pitch?

Griffin Benedict: Other positions where you don't have the ball on you as much there is much more opportunity to review what you just did at the plate. On the flip side of that, you have to shut it off immediately at catcher. When you are a catcher, you really have to focus on separating what you are trying to do.

Is it more fun to catch as you go higher up because it becomes more mental since they have better control?

Griffin Benedict: The confidence is better at this level, but its tough to come to a team in mid-season because you don't know what they throw. I mean going out there in the middle of the game when someone comes in and you are going out there asking him what he throws and what sign he wants is not the ideal way to do it.

I've been here just long enough to get a good idea of what they are trying to do.

How did you get to be a left-handed hitter?

Griffin Benedict: I don't know, I've always swung left-handed since being a kid. I swing a golf club left-handed and played hockey lefty, although I'm right-handed. If I pick something up it just doesn't feel right to swing it right-handed.

What is one specific thing you are really trying to work on to get better as you go up?

Griffin Benedict: Definitely the wood bat and just being more consistent at staying within myself. Everyone is here for a reason so you really have to work at just staying consistent and working hard everyday.

If I can do that and keep an even keel mentally, it will produce results.

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